Things can change with the flip of a switch, but for now, the city of Cleveland is still planning on hosting the 2021 NFL Draft, which takes place from April 29-May 1.
Unfortunately, as we’ve said over the past year, if the draft indeed happens, there is no way that Cleveland will have the same type of economic impact they had hoped for when they were first awarded the draft. For example — in 2019, Nashville, Tennessee generated $132.8 million in direct spending for hosting the draft, with hundreds of thousands of attendees. Unless the pandemic drastically improves from now to the end of April, that big of a turnout doesn’t seem possible.
Here is the latest we know about the draft, based on reports from Cleveland.com and an interview that David Gilbert, the CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, conducted on 92.3 the Fan recently:
- Up to 2,000 volunteers are being recruited to help with the NFL Draft Experience sector, and 600 volunteers are being recruited to be Cleveland ambassadors. Shifts will last 4-5 hours with breaks, and food, snacks and drinks will be provided to the volunteers. You can register to be a volunteer here.
- Although the event will be free to fans, it will be gated with timed ticketing — so it doesn’t sound like you’ll be able to roam freely at your leisure.
- The space to be used for the draft will be the lakefront, including First Energy Stadium and “much of the area north and northeast of the stadium and a large part of North Coast Harbor.” Two warehouses north of the stadium are expected to be demolished to create more space.
- As of now, the April 29-May 1 dates have been firm, and the NFL has not asked the city to consider contingency plans for a later date in 2021.
- The city is planning to have a big stage to announce the picks.
- Gilbert says that locally, they have talked behind the scenes about requesting a future Draft. However, they have not yet approached the NFL about that. Speaking to the Plain Dealer, mayor Frank Jackson said that he will not ask the NFL about Cleveland hosting another draft. Jackson also mentioned various formats for the draft:
Jackson said the draft — which in recent years has drawn massive crowds — could be virtual, or have limited fans with social distancing. In a hybrid plan, Jackson said some people could spread among different venues to watch virtually and have others watch in person, but socially distanced.
We’ll see how things unfold in the coming months.